Don't quaestion everything…


Bag Of Tricks And Candysticks - 1992

Before I even asked my first question, quotes were being thrown at my tape recorder. On noticing that Ted Chippington was interviewed in issue one Bic started on a talk which I lost the thread of somewhere on the way.

“He’s a collector of any record that is hilariously bad and he makes up tapes of them until it gets to the point where they’re good because they’re so bad, which is a reflection of the way he perceives things. To him it’s not bad because it’s good that that is good”. Hmmm…Terry takes over.

“I get overwound emotionally. I see certain times of day like this evening where people are going home for their 3 hours of tv and ½ an hour meal and that’s their life. We’re very lucky being the opportunists we are jumping onboard”. Failing to see the link between Ted Chippington and what Terry’s on about I resist the chance to ask and let Terry carry on;

“I do feel in this country there’s a habit of big companies trapping people. People are at the mercy of big conglomerates and companies who have, since the days of the Roman Empire and Egyptian culture, pushed the people around and they’re still rallying around serving some master, a technological master or whatever.”

Bic – How is it that bosses are like gnats?

Terry – On a camping trip!

And it continues.

Bic and Terry are like this the whole time trying to find words to go with their ideas, but finding words is all too slow and you know that by the time they’ve had an idea and told you, another ten have come and gone through their heads. Laurence and Bob are much more considered and with any other company they’d appear quite extrovert. Here, they seem like dormice.

Anyway, the preliminary chat goes full circle back to Mr T. Chippington via uniforms, clothes, Hugh Reed (and the Velvet Underpants) and novelty records and we’re ready to begin.

When it transpires that I was to interview Levitation, the first thing I thought was “Barking Mad”. I try not to pre-judge but, hey, I read the inkies and every interview is “Crazy Bickers and his band of loonies”.

Do they feel they have a media image to live up to?

Bic – You don’t have to live up to anything. You are who you are. People have gleaned that from what they perceive that we are, we just carry on being us.

Terry – I think Steve Sutherland (M.Maker 5/2/92) explained it well, talking about my theatrical enthusiasm and inspiration that came from it. If John Cleese goes into a shopping centre, he can freak out because it’s acceptable that he’s a bit of a nutter, he’s Basil Fawlty.

Bic – He’s a freak.

Terry – So he’s permitted to express himself completely freely. He can walk in to any shop, raise his eyebrows and people will roll about laughing.

Bic – But he’s a freak. A freak of nature. He’s huge, a big stick.

DO YOU BELIVE IN GOD? (a question dedicated to Hamish iron side)

Terry – I believe in an entity. God’s a word that people can relate to for something they can’t explain. In this world there are forces we can’t understand, whether they be interlinked with nature…

Bic – Can I just…

Terry – Hang on, let me finish…or on some separate metaphysical plain, I believe, in this world, everything is symbolism. You know, in Britain they say “Rally round the flag.” It’s like Bill Hicks says “You’re rallying round a piece of cloth with some colour on it?” Why not rally round a Salvador Dali painting?

Laurence – That’s just a piece of cloth with some colour on it.

Terry – Yeah – but it’s more interesting than the Union Jack. I’m not into Cubism ok?

Bob – Cuba-ism

Terry – So in our world we can give our energy to symbols or to fellow humans. In symbolism things have good vibes or bad vibes. People who are into Death Metal or Satanism are going right up a fucking blind alley.

Bic – Yeah but it’s a big joke.

Terry – Yeah, it IS a joke, a big ironic joke, but who knows, maybe they are giving themselves away. I know a shop in Harlow Rd called Roadrunner. They did a lot of Death Metal and the shop burnt to the ground. Whether that’s fantasy well it’s their reality cos it’s their shop that got burnt. I get a funny vibe there.

Bob – So what we say is fuck ‘em really.

Terry – What?

Bob – Fuck ‘em.

Bic – Who exactly – I want to know who I’m fucking.

Bob – Satanists.

Bic – Oh, right.

Laurence – What’s your next question?

Bag – Who was your favourite Dr.Who? (much merriment ensues from this question due to its distinct difference with the preceding question)

Laurence – John Pertwee!

Bic – No, not HIM! Who was the guy before him with the black hair?

Bag – Patrick Troughton.

Bic – Yeah – he was really good. But I did like J.Pertwee too. I’ve had a love of lisps ever since (except Toyah Wilcox).

And so, onto weightier matters – I wonder if there’s any pressure on them to succeed commercially given Rough Trade’s problems.

Laurence – we’re not as easy as the Smiths – we’ll never be as big as them.

Terry – They want me to wear daffodils, NHS specs and some Levis!

Bag – How do you get on with R.Trade? (guffaws all round)

Bic - I don’t even know what the guy looks like – I hate going there.

Laurence – What’s his name? Jim, Geoff?

Bob - they’re pretty fab. He’s a big fan – used to turn up at all our gigs

Bag - What do you think of the Manic Street Preachers?

Bic - I love their attitude – anything that gets up people’s noses is great

Bob - Yeah, it’s got to be good – I don’t like their music much but their attitude’s great.

Terry - They’re just letting themselves become puppets basically. Record companies love destructive personalities. Death sells and that’s sick! We want to sell life in this band – look at Iron Maiden. Every album has a corpse on the cover.

I then begin to lose track of the twists and turns the conversation takes but we eventually get on to TV.
Terry - When you’re growing up and see TV and think you’ve been to places and experienced things. I worry greatly about Virtual Reality. It’s like they want to take people further away from reality. We’ll have virtual love next and virtual sex. Bladerunner and Clockwork Orange are very strong prophecies for the future.

Terry goes on to talk about Iraq and the Gulf War before I ask – “Has anyone got a Gameboy?” – howls of laughter follow and people point at Laurence.

Laurence - I play scrabble on it cause…

Bic – Don’t say it’s intellectual!

Me - (getting excited) Scrabble on the Gameboy? Where did you get it? I didn’t know you could get that!

Laurence - I’ve got Chess for it too – that’s good.

Terry - Going back to the subject of crisis, everyone is an addict; of tea, nicotine, buying ornaments or whatever. People have an obsessive nature that’s out of sync with what the planet requires for a continued existence. The human race has outstayed its welcome.

It’s at this point that Terry begins to play a Fatima Mansions song on his guitar so the talk goes onto the bard, the fact they’re supporting U2 and onto Mr Rock Star hisself – BONO.

Terry - I think he speaks sense, he’s just quoted out of context – he’s a sound lad. Adam Clayton is a smoking jacket type of gent with cigars and port.

Bic - They’re shitheads.

Terry - They’re the best pub-rock band in the world!

Bic - What are they doing putting Trabants all over the place? What are they celebrating?

Terry - Broken cars.

Well it’s final question time. I want to get the so far silent Dave to answer a query so I ask “How do Levitation relax?”

Dave - FUCK (Mr Sensitive eh readers?)

Terry - Dave’s our spiritual adviser. He’s put his finger on it.

And so the interview winds down and we listen to Laurence’s new Bill Hicks tape which is very funny. Later that night I watch Levitation and they blow me apart – at the time I wrote a gushing review but it’s lost now + even if I did find it I’d probably be too embarrassed to show you. Suffice it to say that I almost encountered a religious experience at “Arcs Of Light + Dew”. It’s mainly songs from the Need For Not LP (much recommended by the way) and the energy and emotion they create could make you feel like nothing else will ever matter – that’s how I felt. Then you go to bed, wake up, it’s a new day and you’ve forgotten that essence but at least you know you can still feel like that.
Also they’re jolly fine chaps – most hospitable and friendly. Bloody marvellous.


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